By Richard Adams, April 26, 2011
Is Donald Trump a double agent working on behalf of the Democratic party? Because that would at least explain why Trump is doing his utmost to turn the Republican party into a burned-out wreck.
Whatever it is that is driving Trump – and it can’t be a desire to run for the White House, since he can’t be so deluded not to know that he doesn’t stand a chance – his crude antics have moved from hilarious sideshow to centre-stage of American politics.
Trump’s latest trick, after donning the putrid mantle of “birtherism“, has been to change the subject. When Trump was challenged by CNN’s Anderson Cooper over his repeated, unsubstantiated claims to have investigators in Hawaii working to uncover the facts of Barack Obama’s birthplace, Trump has literally trumped himself with a fresh, equally unsubstantiated claim, that he was now interested in uncovering Obama’s educational records.
In an interview today Trump expanded:
“I heard he was a terrible student, terrible. How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard?” Trump said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I’m thinking about it, I’m certainly looking into it. Let him show his records.”
(For the record, Barack Obama graduated magna cum laude from the fiercely competitive Harvard Law School.)
The problem for Republicans is not just that the Trump circus threatens to taint the rest of the party with such nonsense. It’s that Trump’s act is taking up valuable time and space, crowding out serious presidential contenders and doing nothing to help the Republicans overcoming their talent deficit – the same talent deficit that gave Trump the inch that he is furiously turning into a mile.
Birtherism is a symptom of something worse in the candidate. A person who actively spreads Birtherism as a serious plank in the 2012 GOP is a racist, an idiot or a dishonest hack.
Others fear that Trump could even run as an independent in the 2012 presidential election, skimming off potential Republican votes.
Republicans must dread looking at the opinion polls. Name recognition and bombast has put Trump way ahead of the rest of the putative field: one in four Americans in a Pew poll said he was the Republican candidate they had heard the most about. A serious Gallup poll actually put him tied for the top spot for support among likely Republican voters.
On the other hand, the American public at large has no illusions about the soi-disant billionaire. In a USA Today poll, 50% of Americans say he would be a “poor” or “terrible” president, while 64% say that they “definitely” would not vote for him. (Trump’s polling figures are in fact statistically identical to Sarah Palin.)
Sensible Republicans argue that the whole nightmare will be over as soon as Trump admits that he is not standing. And they are probably right. But he could insist on hanging around like a bad smell, popping up on whatever desperate cable news channel will have him.
In the meantime, expect more of the same. In his latest interview, Trump insists: “The last guy [Obama] wants to run against is Donald Trump.” That’s probably the biggest joke of them all.